Atlantic Sun basketball preseason polls give way to Dunk City
The reigning Atlantic Sun Conference champions were unanimously selected to earn a third-consecutive conference championship last week in the Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches Poll.
The FGCU women’s basketball team, which has posted a 31-1 conference record in two years, made its third trip to the NCAA tournament
last season, earning its first NCAA win against Oklahoma State.
FGCU also highlighted the individual preseason honors, with senior Whitney Knight earning the Preseason Player of the Year title, and senior Kaneisha Atwater earned the Defensive Preseason Player of the Year honor. Senior Steph Haas also joins Atwater and Knight on the Preseason All- Conference team.
Knight, who totaled 504 points last season, led the team in nearly every
statistical category with 217 rebounds, 87 blocks and 66 steals while also leading the league and the team with 91 3-pointers and a success rate of .412 from beyond the arch. The honor is Knight’s second-consecutive preseason player of the year honor, complimented by last year’s A-Sun Player of the Year title and the A-Sun Tournament MVP honor.
In her second year with the Eagles, Atwater ranked second behind Knight with 482 points in the season while posting 14.2 points per game, 58 steals and 4.7 rebounds per game. Haas ranked third on the team, with 9.2 points per game.
FGCU finished the 2015 season ranked No. 21 in the nation with a 27-2 regular season record and undefeated in conference, earning its fifth regular season title.
In a rematch of the 2014 NCAA tournament, No. 7 FGCU took on No. 10 Oklahoma State in Tallahassee and earned a 75-67 win over OSU for the program’s first win in the Division I NCAA Tournament.
The team’s season came to an end with a 65-47 loss to No. 2 Florida State, which later fell to No. 3 South Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.
FGCU will begin its season on Nov. 13 in Greensboro, North Carolina, against North Carolina A&T followed by its home opener against Florida Atlantic at 7 p.m. Nov. 17.
Last week, all eight Atlantic Sun conference coaches chose FGCU to finish second in the conference behind reigning conference champions, North Florida, in the preseason coach’s poll.
The FGCU men’s basketball team, which was knocked out of the A-Sun Tournament with a one-point heartbreaker to USC Upstate in the semifinals, finished the season 22-11 overall and 11-3 in conference.
UNF defeated Upstate, 63-57, in the championship game and took its turn in the NCAA tournament, falling to Robert Morris in the First Four round, 81-77.
Conference newcomer New Jersey Institute of Technology was predicted to finish third in the conference, followed by Lipscomb, Jacksonville, USC Upstate, Kennesaw State and Stetson.
Julian DeBose, a redshirt senior, returns as the team’s leading scorer with an average of 11.6 points per game last season. He was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Conference Team. The redshirt senior finished last season averaging 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
DeBose, who earned a gold metal for Team USA at the World University Games in Korea this summer, joins four players from UNF, two from NJIT, and one each from Jacksonville, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb.
UNF also earned both Preseason Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the year awards in addition to both fan-voted awards.